Early Detection Research Network

Vascular endothelial growth factor stimulates organ-specific host matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression and ovarian cancer invasion.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) regulate each other, contributing to tumor progression. We have previously reported that MMP9 induces the release of tumor VEGF, promoting ascites formation in human ovarian carcinoma xenografts. The aim of this study was to investigate whether tumor-derived VEGF regulated the expression of gelatinase by the stroma, influencing the invasive properties of ovarian tumors. Tumor variants derived from 1A9 human ovarian carcinoma, stably expressing VEGF(121) in the sense (1A9-VS-1) and antisense orientations (1A9-VAS-3), were used. In vivo, zymographic analysis of tumors from 1A9-VS-1 implanted in the peritoneal cavity of nude mice showed higher levels of gelatinases, particularly murine MMP9, indicating that VEGF stimulates host expression of the matrix-degrading enzyme. Murine MMP9 expression was also high in the ovaries of mice bearing 1A9-VS-1 tumors. The effect on host MMP9 activity was organ-specific. The levels of host pro-MMP9 in ovaries correlated with the plasma levels of tumor VEGF and with the selective invasion of the ovaries. Induction of host MMP9 expression in tumors and ovaries was independent of the site of tumor growth as it was seen in mice carrying both intraperitoneal and subcutaneous tumors. The anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab (Avastin) inhibited MMP9 expression and tumor invasion in the ovaries of mice bearing 1A9-VS-1 tumors. These findings point to a complex cross-talk between VEGF and MMPs in the progression of ovarian tumor and suggest the possibility of using VEGF inhibitors to affect MMP-dependent tumor invasion.

Belotti D, Calcagno C, Caronia D, Garofalo A, Giavazzi R, Riccardi E, Taraboletti G

18403633

Mol. Cancer Res., 2008, 6 (4)